Justin Trudeau to appoint new cabinet with equal gender balance

Prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau said he was still committed to a number of promises he made during the campaign, but would not be pinned down on timelines, committing only to naming a new cabinet on Nov.4.

Liberals to begin transition of government with assistance of political and policy advisers

Justin Trudeau on his cabinet

8 years ago
Duration 0:31
Featured VideoThe new prime minister-designate would like to solidify a cabinet by Nov. 4

Prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau says he is still committed to promises he made during the campaign, but would not be pinned down on timing, committing only to naming a new cabinet on Nov.4.

In a news conference he held on Tuesday, he offered few details about his coming agenda. Trudeau did not set a date for reconvening Parliament, saying only that the new cabinet will be named in two weeks and will have gender balance, meeting a commitment he had made previously.

Choosing that cabinet is just one of the tasks set before the Liberal leader as the transition of power begins. The job involves not just naming names in cabinet, but also choosing, for example, the different type of cabinet committees.

"Dreadfully boring things to most of us, but they're critically important to how the government will function and how decisions will be taken," said Scott Reid, a former senior adviser to Paul Martin.

Moving day at 24 Sussex

The transition also includes figuring out when the current occupant of 24 Sussex Drive should vacate.

"Typically the sitting outgoing prime minister will be gracious and accommodating and say 'PM elect, what's your timetable?  Do you want more time or less time? Do you want me out of the office tomorrow, do you want me to linger around 24 Sussex Drive for a couple of weeks?" Reid said.

Reid said there's no fixed date, and the process usually takes a couple of weeks, but can vary depending on circumstance and whether something is coming up that would dictate having the new Prime Minister's Office up and running.

Reid said that when his former boss handed over the keys to Stephen Harper, it was a very simple process. 

"They had a couple of conversations. Mr. Martin immediately indicated that as far as he was concerned, the timeline for transition would be dictated by Mr. Harper."

And no, the two do not meet in a dimly lit room and hand over secret files, he said. 

Advance planning

Many of the conversations take place between the incoming prime minister's transition team and the Privy Council Office and senior civil servants.

Trudeau's transition team was likely already established and working discreetly behind the scenes in the event of victory to begin the transfer of power and establishment of new priorities.

That team usually consists of a mix of people including those with a political background and some from the policy side, who are familiar with the machinery of government. 

They will then meet with the Privy Council Office and senior civil servants who have also been preparing for a possible transition of power. 

"You would talk about priorities, go through a whole host of items. What are the priorities going to be?" Reid said.

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"Senior civil servants will say, 'We're looking for you to give us a read on what your musts are.'" Reid said.

They will provide timetables and how those may place limitations on proposals, Reid said. For example, they may explain that the initiatives of the prime minister couldn't be done any later than a certain date because of various considerations.

"So they'll spell it out and say if you wanted to add things to that package, then you have to take into consideration these additional factors," Reid said. "It's detail work but it's awfully important detail."

The civil servants will also alert the transition team of upcoming major events. Trudeau has a number of international summits coming up, for which he will need to be properly briefed to understand the concerns and considerations.

"Every process will be somewhat tailored to the needs of the incoming prime minister — their priorities, their personality," Reid said.